Let’s not kid ourselves – 2017 was not all roses for sustainability. The U.S. federal government has been busy rolling back environmental legislation at a furious pace, including the Clean Power Plan, and the U.S. is now the only country on Earth that has backed away from the Paris Climate Agreement.
(Cover image credit: Milwaukee magazine staff)
This state of affairs has led cities across the country, including Cleveland, to take even more of a leadership role on sustainability, climate action, equity, and more. It’s been more than eight years since the launch of Sustainable Cleveland 2019 – and now, more than ever, it’s clear that Clevelanders are dedicated to creating a more sustainable future, with considerable progress to show for it.
As we look forward to another big year in 2018, we want to first reflect on 2017 with 17 success stories that caught our eye.
2. The Cleveland Metroparks celebrated 100 years in 2017, and to say the least, there was a lot to celebrate.
3. On behalf of the Cleveland Tree Coalition, Mayor Jackson announced on Arbor Day a tree canopy goal of 50,000 new trees planted and maintained by 2020, with a longer term goal of 30% canopy by 2040 (we currently sit at 19%). Plus, leaf pick-up is back!
4. Taken all together, 2017 could be considered a “tipping point” for green space in Cleveland, including significant progress on Irishtown Bend, the Nord Family Greenway, the towpath, and more transformative projects.
5. Mayor Jackson and hundreds of climate mayors across the U.S. pledged their continued support of the Paris Climate Agreement. The City was also recognized by the U.S. Conference of Mayors for its action on climate, and become one of the first 10 U.S. cities to meet all requirements under the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy.
6. The City received a grant to update its community-wide Climate Action Plan, with more focus on equity, green jobs, corporate sustainability, and our vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. This process includes eight more neighborhood workshops, including the opportunity to receive up to $5,000 from the Cleveland Climate Action Fund.
7. The 9th Annual Sustainable Cleveland Summit brought together more than 500 people all innovating around sustainability. Mayor Jackson also announced plans to go big in 2019 for the 50th anniversary of the infamous Cuyahoga River fire.
8. The City of Cleveland now has 14 more miles of bike infrastructure than this time last year, including protected bike lanes on the Detroit-Superior Bridge (with green lanes made from recycled glass!).
9. NOACA provided significant leadership on sustainable transportation, including funding for the City’s Midway protected bikeway on Superior, the Lorain Avenue Cycle Track from West 20th to West 65th, Thrive 105-93, the launching of Gohio Commute, and much more.
10. UH Bikes, Cleveland's bike share system, enjoyed its first full year of operation while also expanding to 250 bikes in 29 locations. (Stay tuned for more bike share in 2018!)
11. ciCLEvia expanded in 2017 to four different open streets events in celebration of health, sustainability, and community.
12. Ohio's Clean Energy Standards were restored in early 2017, which makes sense -- renewable energy is good for jobs, our economy, our air, our quality of life, our future. But, inexplicably, the attacks keep coming.
13. Solar took a step forward this year. More than 30 Cuyahoga County residents installed solar as part of the county’s solar co- op program – and the co-op is back for round two, so sign up now and save on solar for your home or business. The City of Cleveland also released a solar guide and was designated “SolSmart Bronze” for advancing solar energy growth.
14. We highlighted sustainable business with a three part series focused on (1) Product Innovators in Cleveland, (2) Doing Well by Doing Good, and (3) Businesses Leading by Example. And recently, the Cleveland Clinic announced they will be carbon neutral by 2027!
15. Sustainable Cleveland and Cleveland Water launched “Don’t Break the Lake” to raise awareness of plastic pollution in our waters, including Lake Erie. The County also introduced legislation to place a fee on plastic and paper bags.
16. The Ports delivered in 2017 – The Port of Cleveland made big strides on sustainable dredging and Hopkins Airport installed two green roofs.
17. Finally, in case you missed it, National Geographic listed Cleveland as a top place to visit in 2018.
With so much happening, your list may look different than ours. Please share your 2017 success story on the Sustainable Cleveland website and we'll help get the word out.